Moto2: Tetsuta Nagashima claims sensational maiden victory in Qatar
Tetsuta Nagashima clinched an emotional maiden victory in Qatar after a sensational performance in the desert.
10 years since the late Shoya Tomizawa took victory in the first-ever Moto2 race at the same circuit, Nagashima was able to pay tribute to his friend with an inch-perfect race.
The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider was fast throughout the race, setting fastest lap after fastest lap. Nagashima entered the fight for the podium on lap 17 and didn’t look back. The Japanese rider had timed it to perfection, with tyres that were still in a healthy condition.
Nagashima took the lead on the following lap and immediately broke away from his rivals with two more fastest laps. He would win the race with a margin of 1.347s
Lorenzo Baldassarri secured his first podium since round four at Jerez last season in second spot. Enea Bastianini completed the podium after engaging in an entertaining battle with Baldassarri throughout the race. The duo swapped positions on a number of occasions.
Joe Roberts finished in fourth spot after a valiant effort from first on the grid. The American gave everything he had and did briefly lead the race. He will have no doubt learnt a lot from being towards the front of the field.
Remy Gardner battled through the pain to take fifth, just ahead of Jorge Navarro. The Spaniard was unable to recover from a slow start on the Speed Up machine. Marcel Schrotter was seventh, with rookie Aron Canet battling through the field to take eighth.
Xavi Vierge and Thomas Luthi completed the top 10, with Bo Bendsneyder clinching NTS’s best-ever result in 11th.
Jake Dixon secured two points on his debut for the Petronas Sprinta Racing team, however the Brit was involved in a collision with Luca Marini at the final corner. The second half of Marini’s race was a disaster due to the SKY Racing Team VR46 rider’s tyres running out of grip. The Italian led the opening 15 laps but had fallen to 14th by the time he clashed with Dixon on the 22nd and final lap.
Somkiat Chantra and Marcos Ramirez clashed at turn 10 on the opening lap, with the latter retiring from the race. Augusto Fernandez, an early race favourite, also crashed out of proceedings after being clipped by Stefano Manzi at turn six. Kasma Daniel also crashed out on his Moto2 debut.
Moto3: Albert Arenas seals KTM’s 100th Grand Prix victory in Qatar
First published: 14:37 8 March by Josh Close
Albert Arenas overcame a late challenge from John McPhee to secure victory in the 2020 Moto3 season opener in Qatar.
Arenas, who led several laps throughout the race, rode a perfect final lap to escape the potential slipstream of McPhee. The victory was KTM’s 100th in Grand Prix racing and their first at Qatar since Jack Miller in 2014. Arenas was one of only two KTM machines in the top 10.
McPhee left it late to challenge for the podium, having only reached the top three for the first time on lap 15. Despite his best efforts, the Petronas Sprinta Racing rider was unable to catch Arenas.
Jaume Masia thought he’d clinched the final spot on the podium only to be told in the pit lane that he’d been demoted one spot for exceeding track limits. The Leopard Racing rider had been pushed wide on the final lap and was punished as a result. The Spaniard’s spot on the podium was taken by Ai Agura.
Masia was forced to settle for fourth, ahead of polesitter Tatsuki Suzuki and Gabriel Rodrigo. Rodrigo had also been handed a demotion of one place due to exceeding track limits.
Jeremy Alcoba also dropped one spot for exceeding track limits and finished seventh. The Spaniard was fortunate to escape a long lap penalty after colliding with Celestino Vietti at turn 10 earlier in the race.
Filip Salac with eighth, with Dennis Foggia and Raul Fernandez rounding out the top 10. Fernandez had started from second on the grid and was involved in the leading battle for the majority of the race. However, a mistake on lap 11 saw him drop to 16th and he was forced to fight his way back through the order. He was the fourth and final rider to be demoted one place after exceeding track limits on the final lap.
Tony Arbolino and Darryn Binder were also battling for the lead until they clashed at turn one on the final lap. Binder’s front wheel clipped Arbolino’s rear, causing the South African to hit the deck. Arbolino managed to stay upright but crossed the line down in 15th.
Moto2: Joe Roberts takes a sensational pole position in Qatar
First published: 16:14 7 March by Josh Close
Joe Roberts secured his first-ever pole position in a sensational Moto2 qualifying session in Qatar.
Roberts and Luca Marini both smashed the lap record at the Losail International Circuit, posting a lap-time of 1:58.136. However, Roberts' next fastest time was quicker than Marini's and therefore the American was named as the polesitter.
The 22-year-old becomes the first American to take pole in the intermediate class since Kenny Noyes at the French Grand Prix in 2010.
Enea Bastianini joins Roberts and Marini on the front row after moving up the order with only two minutes remaining.
The story so far
- Tatsuki Suzuki takes pole in Moto3
- Sam Lowes ruled out through injury
- Joe Roberts ends Friday on top in Moto2
Jorge Navarro qualified in fourth spot, ahead of Bo Bendsneyder on the NTS RW Racing GP machine. Remy Gardner battled through the pain to complete the second row, after suffering two big crashes so far this weekend.
Marco Bezzecchi was seventh on the second SKY Racing Team VR46 bike. He and Marini, like yesterday, were helping each other throughout the session. Jorge Martin was eighth, ahead of last year's race winner Lorenzo Baldassarri.
Xavi Vierge completed the top 10, ahead of Fabio Qiannantonio, Augusto Fernandez and Marcel Schrotter.
Jake Dixon will start the race from 20th after just missing the cut in Q1. Meanwhile, predicted title contender Thomas Luthi could only manage 18th. The Swiss rider had two crashes in Free Practice Two yesterday afternoon. Reigning Moto3 champion Lorenzo Dalla Porta will start from 27th on the grid.
Lorenzo Dalla Porta set the first benchmark time of Q1 with a 2:00.692. This was quickly beaten by Baldassari who posted a 1:58.798. Navarro, Somkiat Chantra and Schrotter slotted in behind the Italian. Dixon rose to fifth with his first fast lap of the session, +0.599s behind the leader.
Moments later Schrotter took the lead of the session with a 1:58.653, the second fastest lap-time of the entire weekend. The German went even faster on his next lap, posting a 1:58.422. This would be the lap that guaranteed his spot in Q2.
Baldassari would join him after finishing Q1 in second, alongside Navarro and Edgar Pons. Dixon ended up sixth in Q1 and will start the race from 20th on the grid.
At the beginning of Q2 the SKY Racing Team VR46 duo of Marini and Bezzecchi continued to support each other out on the track, offering a slipstream opportunity when needed.
However, it was Navarro who hit the top of the timing sheets with, at that stage, the fastest Moto2 lap-time ever at Losail – a 1:58.396. Moments later Bendsneyder and Roberts slotted into the remaining front row positions.
That was until Marini, using his teammate as a tow, smashed the lap record with a 1:58.136. Unbelievably, Roberts would cross the line a few moments later with the exact same lap-time, albeit without a tow. The American would take top spot based on the fact that his next best lap-time was quicker than Marini’s.
Moto3: Tatsuki Suzuki clinches Qatar pole with new pole position lap record
First published: 15:14 7 March by Josh Close
Suzuki, who had to battle through Q1, produced a new pole position record lap-time on his first flying lap in Q2. His time of 2:04.815 was -0.068s quicker than the previous record set by Aron Canet in 2019.
The SIC58 Squadra Corse rider had to go through a late scare after a seat problem cost him the chance to set another lap-time after a change of tyres.
Raul Fernandez used the tow of his teammate Kaito Toba to slot into second, just +0.008s behind Suzuki’s time. Albert Arenas completed the top three for the Aspar Team Gaviota outfit.
Darryn Binder will head the second row after qualifying fourth, with Ai Ogura and Jaume Masia joining the South African on row two.
Andrea Migno qualified seventh, with Deniz Öncü and John McPhee joining him on the third row. Tony Arbolino completes the top 10 and will be joined on the fourth row by Jeremy Alcoba and Toba. Gabriel Rodrigo will start from 13th after suffering from a mechanical issue late in the session.
Some big names had to battle it out in the 15-minute Q1 session, including Arenas, Dennis Foggia, Rodrigo and Suzuki.
After the first set of fast laps it was Suzuki who hit the top of the timing sheets with a 2:05.276 lap-time – the sixth fastest time of the weekend so far. Alcoba and Filip Salac slotted into the top three, with Sasaki in the final Q2 qualifying spot.
The majority of the field headed into the pits for a change of tyres and returned with just under four minutes remaining on the clock. With so little time remaining, most riders only had a chance to complete one quick lap.
Rodrigo hit the top as the clock hit zero, posting a lap-time of 2:05.254. Moments later, Arenas took the final qualifying slot in fourth spot after pushing Foggia down to fifth. The pair were joined by Suzuki and Alcoba in Q2.
Salac crashed out of contention at turn six on his final lap, meaning he’ll start tomorrow’s race from 20th on the grid.
Suzuki set the early benchmark in Q2 with a lap-time of 2:04.815, with McPhee slotting into second spot momentarily. Arenas and Binder quickly pushed the Scot down the order.
Masia jumped up to fourth on his first fast lap of the session, right before the field returned to the pits for a change of tyres.
The riders returned to the circuit with around three minutes remaining on the clock. Suzuki was one of the last riders to hit the circuit, after being told to remain in his garage by his team due to a missing part on his seat. The pacesetter would end up failing to cross the line before the clock hit zero.
Rodrigo returned to the pits with some mechanical issue with his Kömmerling Gresini bike - ending any chances of a strong grid position.
On his first flying lap of his second run Agura slotted into fourth spot, +0.250s off the time set by Suzuki.
Fernandez leaped up to second after being towed down the straight by his teammate Toba. Fortunately for Suzuki, nobody on the circuit was able to beat the time he set earlier on in the session.
Moto2: Sam Lowes ruled out of the Qatar Grand Prix with shoulder injury
First published: 12:51 7 March by Josh Close
The Brit dislocated and fractured his right shoulder in a crash at the Jerez test last month. As a result, he also damaged ligaments in the shoulder.
Despite the seriousness of the injury Lowes pushed on with his rehabilitation and was declared fit to ride ahead of Friday's free practice sessions - less than a month after the accident. The EG 0,0 Marc VDS rider completed 12 laps in each of the two sessions, ending the day 20th overall.
However, the team revealed this morning that following medical advice and in accordance with them, Lowes will take no further part this weekend.
The 29-year-old will now focus on his recovery ahead of the second round of the season, which is due to be held at The Circuit of the Americas on April 5. However, given the on-going coronavirus crisis, it's still not 100% confirmed that the race will go ahead. The Thailand Grand Prix, originally round two, has already been postponed.
If the American round does not go ahead, the next race would be held in Argentina on April 19. This gives Lowes more time to fully recover from his shoulder injury, without losing too much ground on his rivals.
Moto2: Joe Roberts breaks Qatar lap record to top the opening day
First published: 16:12 6 March by Josh Close
The American broke the lap record at the Losail International Circuit with only a few minutes left on the clock. Roberts' 1:58.421 was -0.214s quicker than Lorenzo Baldassarri's old record.
It's a fantastic start for Roberts, who has aligned himself with former MotoGP rider John Hopkins for the 2020 season. He's also reaping the benefits of his new Kalex chassis, after struggling with the KTM last year.
The SKY Racing Team VR46 duo of Marco Bezzecchi and Luca Marini completed the top three after helping each other out on the circuit throughout the session. Despite their best efforts, Bezzecchi was still +0.248s slower than Roberts.
Tetsuta Nagashima was next up in fourth spot, ahead of Xavi Vierge on the Petronas Sprinta Racing bike. Augusto Fernandez had an eventful afternoon in sixth spot. The Spaniard was leading Free Practice Two before crashing out at turn five. Fernandez ran out wide onto the kerb and wasn't able to recover control of his bike.
Bo Bendsneyder finished the first day in seventh onboard the NTS RW Racing GP machine. Enea Bastianini, Nicolo Bulega and Jorge Martin complete the top 10.
Thomas Luthi had an afternoon to forget in 11th. The Swiss rider, who is one of the title favourites, crashed on two separate occasions. The first came at turn 14 only a few minutes into the session, and the second came with only a couple of minutes remaining. On this occasion, Luthi hit the deck at turn two.
Jorge Navarro, Marcel Schrotter and class rookie Aron Canet occupy the final automatic Q2 positions at this stage.
Alex Lowes battled through to 20th overall on the opening day. The Brit was declared fit to compete yesterday, but he is still in some pain and discomfort with his shoulder. Lowes completed 12 laps in each of the two practice sessions. Fellow Brit Jake Dixon was just behind Lowes in 21st.
Another crasher on day one was Remy Gardner. The Australian went in too deep at turn one, running off-line and being thrown off his bike. You can see the full results below.
Moto3: Raul Fernandez tops the opening day of practice in Qatar
First published: 15:11 6 March by Josh Close
Raul Fernandez has ended the first day of Moto3 action in Qatar at the top of the timing sheets.
The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider hit the top with only a couple of minutes remaining, posting a lap-time of 2:04.577. This time is only +0.016s off the all-time lap record at the Losail International Circuit, currently held by Aron Canet.
In typical Moto3 style the majority of the field went out for a four-minute shootout at the end of the session. Times in this afternoon's Free Practice Two session are likely to go a long way to determining who goes straight into Q2 tomorrow afternoon.
Before Fernandez took the lead away from him, Darryn Binder had the quickest lap-time at the circuit so far in 2020 after an inch-perfect slipstream lap that Moto3 fans have become accustomed to.
Sergio Garcia completed the top three on the Estrella Galicia 0,0, making him the quickest Honda on the opening day.
Up until the final shootout Ai Ogura had been leading the way after continuing the impressive form he showcased during pre-season testing. Ogura ended up in fourth, just ahead of fellow Japanese rider Kaito Toba.
Last season’s runner-up Tony Arbolino was sixth, with SKY Racing Team VR46's Andrea Migno in seventh spot. Jaume Masia, Romano Fenati and Deniz Öncü rounded out the top 10.
John McPhee lost out in the closing stages and ended up 11th overall for the Petronas Sprinta Racing outfit. Celestino Vietti, Yuki Kunil and Carlos Tatay complete the top 14 and are the final riders, at this stage, to be within the automatic Q2 spots. You can see the full results from day one below.